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Northern lights’ faint appearance in C.O. skies is ‘just the beginning’

(Update: adding information and video)

You'll need digital camera to see the lights now, but in next couple of years, you may be able to see a show with naked eye

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Earlier this week, at least one cold Central Oregonian was lucky enough to capture the Northern Lights at Sparks Lake through a camera lens.

Tim Schallberger shared with NewsChannel 21 his image from Sparks Lake, saying it took at least two years and over 10 failed attempts to capture it, on a 16-degree night at Sparks Lake, with South Sister under a fresh coat of snow.

“There’s a bunch of magic that has to happen," Schallberger told NewsChannel 21. "And you are just completely stoked you are there experiencing it.”

Schallberger said he's photographed the northern lights about a dozen times in the last eight years.

“It’s my favorite thing to photograph,” he said.

Jim Todd, director of science education at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland, told NewsChannel 21 that seeing the lights in Central Oregon is "not exactly rare."

Todd explained that every 11 years, the sun goes through storm cycles that creates the northern lights, also known as aurora borealis. A new cycle started last year, which means you may be able to see their green glow through a camera lens, but not with the naked eye.

“Would we have been able to see it with our naked eye? Probably not, because it’s so faint,” Todd said. “The only way you can pick it up is through a fancy camera.”  

Todd said the showing is "just the beginning," and that Oregon is due for a big Northern Lights display some time between 2023 and 2025 when the sun is producing the most solar winds that create the green glow or northern lights.

“That’s the one I’m crossing my fingers for," Todd said. "That one storm (could be) so strong that you could see as far down as Nevada, Nebraska or Texas. Those are the ones you want to watch for are really strong storms.”

You can find an aurora forecast on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website.

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Jordan Williams

Jordan Williams is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jordan here.



  1. This is a nice story. However, it would have been a nicer story had it included the time of night it is/was visible. Good attempt Jordan, but leaving a key element like the time out of the story sorta makes it moot.

    1. This guy goes out to Sparks on a 16 degree night with nice camera gear but doesn’t share all his secrets so you need to speak with Jordan’s manager. Got it.

    2. If you know anything about Northern Lights there is no specific times. You can get a better idea if you use an app that will tell you the KP level, winds, etc.

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